These travel tips from a seasoned traveler are practical, easy to use and will save you money on your next adventure!
I am very excited about today’s addition to the blog! Not only is this my first guest post but it is chock full of great tips that anyone can use, whether you are a newbie explorer or someone who has traveled extensively. Plus, this is only one of several guest posts from this contributor; so if you like what you read here today, stay tuned, there’s more! 🙂
First, a little backstory. I met Wes the summer before my Sophomore year of college when he asked me to help him on his Chicago bus route. (Wes was in charge of picking up children in Chicago for church and shuttling them to and from. He was in desperate need of a “lady worker” since he was quite outnumbered, so I joined his ranks. haha)
In the years following, Wes married and moved on to Mexico to help a veteran missionary. After a few years of “apprenticeship”, he branched out to Brazil to start his own church. Since then, he has traveled to 20 different countries on various missions work while continuing his ministry in Brazil.
I asked Wes to gather some of his travel knowledge together so I could include it on my blog and he has graciously agreed. So, I will let someone far more experienced take it from here:
When it comes to saving money on travel there is literally a plethora of websites, blogs, and YouTube channels that will tell you how to travel like an elite for a fraction of the cost. I mean there are tons and tons…and tons of them. And they all guarantee you can fly First Class, sleep in the Taj Mahal and dine with the Queen, all for the measly price of $1.85. (I jest.)
There is a caveat, however: most of them are paid to produce this content by big banks and travel credit card companies whose praises they are singing. And they’re a bit like the extreme coupon shows you see; if I jump through all 283 hoops, then yes, I could save $50. But do I really need a pallet of grape flavored dish soap? lol
The great thing is that I don’t have to be hyper-dedicated to travel hacks to be able to travel affordably or check something off my bucket list every now and then without going into debt. Like many things in life, it works best if you keep it simple and get organized. Flexibility will get you pretty far, too.
Here are three simple tools I use to travel VERY affordably:
(There are others, but these are well-known and user-friendly, so I’ll expound on these for now.)
Google Flights– If it is on the internet, Google can usually find it. That includes airfare. There are a lot of things that google flights can show me all in one place. I can search specific dates, or better yet, it will show me a two-month calendar and which days are cheapest to fly between my departure city and destination.
On the same page, it will list the cost of an Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class, or First-Class ticket. Believe it or not, Economy isn’t always the cheapest. If I have searched for a specific itinerary, it will let me know if I can save money by switching my arrival or departure, and it will tell me the amount I will save.
I can also track flights through Google Flights. Basically, if I’ve had my eye on a certain trip, I can set an alert and Google will let me know anytime the price changes. Handy little thing.
Lastly, a really nice feature they have allows me to select my outbound and inbound flights of an itinerary I like than Google can send me directly to whatever site that itinerary is available on and I can book my flight.
Kayak– A lot of the same tools as google, but I have historically found more mistake fares via Kayak than with Google. Also, Kayak has an “explore” tool that is interesting: punch in your home airport and it will show you where all you can fly in the world and for how much, at any given time.
Another good tool is their alerts/watch list. I can set up an alert to watch for good deals on airfare between any two cities. I can also have that alert watch for a specific timeframe or keep it open. Example: If I’m watching the price of airfare between Chicago and San Fransisco, I can limit it to the second week of June or have an alert that will show me any major price drop at any time of year.
Twitter– Anyone who lives in the US (especially near a major airport) and enjoys to travel absolutely must have a Twitter account to find amazing deals on airfare. Like, I’m pretty sure that that’s one of the things Jesus commanded His disciples when He commissioned them and sent them out. No really.
There are numerous Twitter accounts whose sole purposes are for tweeting out really low airfare deals of all classes (Economy, Business, etc). Numerous times a day they will post deals between various cities in the US to places all over the world. And if I just set my phone to show an alert on my lock screen anytime they tweet a deal, I’ve done minimal work to come across affordable airfare on a regular basis.
Will they be deals from my home airport only? No, but whenever there IS a deal from my location, I’ll know about it right away. Most of us don’t have hours and hours a day to scour the internet searching for amazing deals on airfare.
These different twitter handles SPECIALIZE in finding mistake fares that offer huuuuge savings. (Roundtrip business class on Singapore Airlines for less than $550, anyone?) My favorite Twitter account of this type that I follow is @theFlightDeal, but there are several others. They are all excellent resources for finding and taking advantage of affordable airfare.
These are just a few “starter” things that everyone can use to help lower their travel costs. The better your familiarity/knowledge, the more useful these tools become. When it comes to airfare, if you want to go more in-depth from here, then we start getting into the world of earning and redeeming frequent flier miles and/or credit card reward points, but these I’ve listed here are tips anyone can use to save a lot of money to achieve their travel goals.
Pt.2 coming next week!
(All photo credits from this blog post go to Wes Palla.)